…And Justice for All is a 1988 Metallica album. The cover depicts the statue of Lady Justice which, bound by ropes, is about to be pulled down. This illustration has become one of the main inspirations around which to develop the project.
The client wanted his entire arm tattooed and had a number of ideas he wanted to include: the portrait of his dog, the love for music, in this particular case represented by the cover of one of his favourite band’s albums, which in fact includes another one of the key elements he wanted in his tattoo, Justice, that for him (and for many of us) is a very important virtue. Finally, it all had to be placed in a gothic setting to represent his style.
As he described me the fundamental value of justice I couldn’t help but make him notice that the statue portrayed on that album cover is falling to pieces, so it didn’t seem appropriate to represent his idea. Therefore, I decided to take inspiration from another famous statue, the one of the Fountain of Justice in Frankfurt.

As he described all the elements and meanings he wanted to incorporate in his tattoo, an image I remembered being quite gothic and surreal came immediately to my mind. A scene I think I’ve seen in the movie 12 Monkeys, where Bruce Willis moves around an abandoned city. As I described it to him, he found that the idea of justice dominating a world in ruins was fantastic.
The following idea was that of placing the dogs around the statue, as if they were protecting it. Finally, just to add more irons in the fire, he also wanted to include some wolves to express the concept of pack, the leader of which was his dog of course. In addition to all this, since we were running out of ideas and meanings, he also asked me to include Cerberus.
Cerberus was the hound who guarded the gates of the Underworld (in Greek and Roman mythology) and at first I didn’t think it made any sense considering what the image had to tell, but after a brief deliberation, considering the gothic setting and the idea of an abandoned world in ruins, I thought it made perfect sense. It was a bit like saying: “Welcome to hell” and at the same time “A world without justice becomes a living hell”.

After having discussed all these elements on occasion of the first intense meeting, all that was left to do was to put myself at the drawing table. The image of this piece was already in my head and after a few sketches I quite rapidly came to the final draft on which to develop the final drawing. At first I was thinking of doing it in shades of blue instead of black but I abandoned this idea almost immediately because it didn’t seem appropriate for the design. After finishing the final drawing, there followed another meeting to make sure the drawing was the right size and all the elements were placed correctly.
The only thing that did not convince me, and to be honest doesn’t convince me even today, was his decision to position the dog’s snout on the front of his forearm, in that position the snout seems slightly deformed. I would have preferred placing it on the flat outside area of the forearm, but he was pretty unmovable about this and all in all the piece in its entirety is not excessively affected by this.

...AND JUSTICE FOR ALL 3The client was thrilled about the drawing and couldn’t wait to see it finished. He decided to undergo as many close sittings as possible in order to finish it as fast as we could. It’s usually best to wait for the area that just got tattooed to heal before proceeding with the next sitting, in order to avoid ruining the recent work by cleaning or stretching the skin, but in this case the tattoo had four different “levels”: the skull at the front and the dogs behind it on the forearm, the statue and the background on the arm and shoulder, so I could work on each of these “levels” without risking of ruining previous work. So we scheduled two sittings in a row and another two, always in a row, the following week. I tattooed the sky and the moon during a fifth sitting little less than a month later.
In less than 5 weeks the work was finished. No complaining, no sudden movements, his determination to get this piece in the least time possible has been admirable, a warrior.

Looking back at this piece with Metallica’s song in the background I feel like I have succeeded in translating into images not only the requests of the client but also the mood of that song, that’s why I gave it the same title.

By the way, Metallica are also my favourite band 😉

Look at the images of the working process below.
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